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Frank Reich’s latest comeback gives Colts great expectations

Last year, the question was whether Frank Reich could be a successful NFL head coach. This year, it’s about whether he can lead the Indianapolis Colts another step forward.

Twelve months ago, nobody knew what to expect from Reich, a former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia who didn’t call plays and wasn’t originally even a top-five candidate during the hiring process by the Colts. He didn’t get in the pool of candidates until Josh McDaniels pulled off a last-minute switch to return to New England on Feb. 6, 2018.

Five days later, Reich was hired and showed he was the right choice — and maybe even the better choice — to lead the rebuilding Colts. He played a big role in a turnaround after a 1-5 start in 2018 as the Colts finished 10-6 and made the AFC playoffs for the first time since 2014. He finished third in the NFL‘s Coach of the Year voting.cheap nfl jerseys nike

That’s fine and all, but in sports, it’s not about living in the past. Reich and the Colts set the bar for 2019 when they advanced to the AFC divisional round of the playoffs in January.

Reich knows about the expectations. He has been down this path before during his 13-year NFL coaching career. But Reich isn’t going to change his coaching style, how he talks to his players and what he will tell general manager Chris Ballard and owner Jim Irsay during a season in which the Colts can be a Super Bowl contender.1

Reich’s motivational tactics do have to change: He challenged his players with the low expectations set by outsiders last season and now will have to keep his players humble and focused on their daily goals this year.

“Yeah, that will be a little bit of the challenge. I don’t think — maybe I overplayed the preseason ranking thing a little bit. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time,” Reich said, laughing. “… As you know me and as you know how we roll around here, we typically don’t make a big deal out of that. So really the challenge this year will be keeping the same approach, the 1-0 approach. Keeping the getting better every day, not being complacent in any way. Not falling into the trap of thinking, ‘We are supposed to be this and that.’ We did nothing. We’ve got to go prove it every day and that should be our mentality.”

The Colts appeared to be headed toward another top-10 draft pick in 2018, and the switch was flipped even before they closed the regular season with nine victories in their final 10 games.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

It was on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2018, in overtime against the Houston Texans. Reich cemented the belief of his players and the front office when he went for it on fourth down with the ball in their territory. The Colts failed to convert and lost the game when the Texans took over and kicked the winning field goal. Reich took ownership of the decision and his players were quick to defend him.

Ballard, who admitted he made a mistake in not interviewing Reich with the first wave of candidates after the 2017 season, praised Reich’s conviction, and knew he had the locker room from that point forward.

“He had them because he believed in them and he supported them and he took the bullet for them,” Ballard said. “That’s a beautiful thing, man. That is a unique thing in our profession; it just is. Look, sometimes God does things for you that you don’t deserve, and I feel very fortunate that Frank is here.”